Every June the city of Spring Lake Park has “Tower Days”, which is essentially their version of the Fourth of July. This concludes with a Sunday night fireworks display. For the past 13 years I didn’t attend, but this year, I wanted to.
Enter “Jupril” 2013, this awful Spring that refuses to break out of the cool, cloudy and rainy weather pattern (thus the term Jupril; as “June” is more like April). After raining all day, the weather finally cleared, so off to the fireworks I went.
The music for this page is “Greatest Hits” by Foo Fighters (one of my all-time favorite bands). With a little side helping of The Black Crowes and The Bangles (have you seen Susanna Hoffs lately? She is STILL hot)…
The fireworks begin. These took place at Spring Lake (1 mile east of me, so I walked over there). My plan was to get in close with an ultra-wide, so I used my D7000 and my Tokina “Soupcan Stan” 12-24mm lens, and shot in Landscape aspect ratio. The camera was mounted on a tripod and I used “BULB” (also known as “TIME”) exposure mode, and a remote shutter release.
What became apparent to me as I took these is I needed two cameras; one in Landscape, and one in Portrait aspect ratio. I also made a mistake with my lens choice; I needed a higher focal length, so my 17-55mm would have been better. This shot, and all Portrait aspect ratio images, were cropped.
I had some fading twilight early on, but I wish the display had begun about 20 minutes earlier. The sky would have been wonderful. This looks like two birds of prey from a science fiction movie; with both anti-aircraft fire from the ground, and rounds from the blue bird to the right, being shot at the enemy red and gold bird in the center. Remember, I’m not a bird fan, except for Bald Eagles, which rule the Earth.
A nice clean shot. Instead of letting fireworks fill a single frame, I tried for fewer bursts.
“Learn to Fly” is playing, so a brief pause is in order. Volume, UP!
Kind of a neat, “flower-like” shot. This was originally under-exposed but I recovered it because I shoot RAW. I tried various aperture settings but settled in at F/8, which all of these finalists were taken at.
I think this was the start of the finale. The shot might be a little busy, especially vis-a-vis the previous, but I like the reflection in the lake. I had hoped to get more lake reflection images, but failed. Maybe next year…
Another clean, but cropped image. The display went on for about 15-20 minutes or so. Although it wasn’t what one would see in say, New York, the crowd went home quite happy. So did I.
I took me several bursts but I did manage to move the frame to maintain the fireworks in the Rule of Thirds. In other words, this wasn’t cropped.
Ok, I hit #6 on the CD player to enjoy Learn to Fly again. I totally dig the intro slide and octave chord progression. Besides, a repeat of that song sets up the last image…
The finale is my favorite of the shoot. Be sure to click on it for the larger version. Clearly a lucky shot; all fireworks images are. I did some post-processing in RAW to bring out the sky but not too much. The D7K/Soupcan Stan combo brought home a winner.
Some things I learned:
• I made a mistake shooting just with an ultra-wide lens. If you look at my focal length, you can see it’s been changing rather frantically (at least that’s what it felt like during the shoot). Next time I will set up two camera bodies.
• Fireworks happen fast and I found myself feeling quite hurried during the shoot.
• I’m glad I followed my own advice (found on various pages on this site) and brought a flashlight. That was very helpful.
• It was cool enough to wear a jacket, and I was glad I did. That helped protect me from the mosquitoes, who were out in force!
• I wish I had used my Flagship D7100, with its 24.1 megapixel sensor; I just didn’t realize I would do that much cropping.
• I love fireworks, but as usual, it was difficult to enjoy the event I was trying to photograph. And so it goes…
Overall, this was a pretty good shoot, and I’ll hopefully try again in 2014.
all images © Scott Woelm – Jupril 2013